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7 things to check when purchasing a second hand car

You’ve found your ideal car and the price tag fits perfectly, but before you go ahead and buy, you need to think carefully about the decision, especially if it’s second hand. Buying second hand continues to be hugely popular and for good reason. Following a recent report by Gumtree, used-car sales are at an all-time high, with figures showing a dramatic increase of 58% in searches for used cars on its website in the last year.

If you’re going to buy second hand, you’ll need to be thorough and if you’re not technically minded it might be wise to take someone along with you who you can trust for a valuable opinion. It is essential that you take along a checklist to ensure you ask all the right questions. It is essential you get the most for your money, especially if you’re paying with a logbook loan. Below are just some of the things to look out for:

Does the seller have all the important documents relevant to the vehicle? You’ll need the log book (V5C Certificate), handbook, MOT certificates and details of service history. It is also worth checking the car’s identity online via the DVLA website. Check that the following match with the details the seller has given you: year of manufacture, date the car was first registered, engine capacity, expiry date of current tax and tax rate.

Exterior condition
Look at the car thoroughly inside and out. Inspect the exterior for signs of damage on the paintwork, check the panels are the same size and ensure the doors, windows and boot open and close properly.

Interior condition
Inside the vehicle, check that the air conditioning, radio and other technology is in good working order, inspect the seats and upholstery for damage and test that all odometer, light and brake functioning works correctly.

How many miles has the vehicle clocked up? Does the mileage of the car look consistent with the age and appearance? Low mileage does not necessarily mean the car is perfect.
It’s important not to pay too much attention to the mileage alone without considering everything else like mechanical condition, reliability and overall maintenance.

Check that the car is safe. Consider everything from tyres and seat belts to airbags and lights. Ensure that the locking system works properly too for security. Test the key and make sure it isn’t temperamental. Does it work in the door and remotely? Is there a spare key that works too?

Engine repairs are very expensive so it’s important to assess the engine as thoroughly as possible. If you can, it is strongly advised to have the car in question inspected by a qualified mechanic. There are a number of things to look for under the under the hood; eBay has a useful guide for checking a car engine. Taking the car on a test drive will also allow you to assess the engine in use.

The deal itself
Before you hand over any money, make sure you confirm exactly what’s included in the price, whether or not the seller needs to carry out any work and arrange delivery or pick up. You should also ensure you get a receipt that includes the vehicle details, price, terms of sale, sellers contact details and any details of existing breakdown cover...


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